Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 14 No. 4 | February 2022

20 Inside Hokie Sports “I learned to like baseball more at HPA because I could slow the game down. I could relax a bit out there, take my time, breathe and control what I could control. I had always liked baseball, but it was not until high school when I really started to enjoy it more.” For Hurney, baseball first resonated with him as a kid while on a family vacation in San Francisco. Though trips to the U.S. mainland were expensive and infrequent, his family would try to entertain the occasional visit to California or Disneyland. Around six or seven years old, Hurney attended a Dodgers-Giants game with his father during which he was in awe of everything baseball’s grandest stage had to offer. “I was really little. I was going down the Coca-Cola bottle slide in the outfield a bunch of times. I was not following the game too much, but rather the atmosphere there of everybody screaming and cheering. I thought to myself, ‘This is cool!’” Hurney’s father knew baseball could be an avenue for his son, especially since he was left-handed. During his first two seasons at HPA, Hurney was content to play practically any utility position behind the upperclassmen. By his junior year in 2017, more pitching spots had opened. He soon realized that his left-hand arm made him all the more prized on the mound, where he would ultimately thrive. “I recognized being a left-handed pitcher could take me a long way. Going into my junior year, I told myself, ‘I want to pitch more.’” With Hurney on the bump, HPA exceeded expectations during the 2017 season, championing its island to reach the Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) state tournament. Heavy underdogs, HPA was given little chance to make it past its quarterfinal opponent, Waianae— the second-ranked team in the state that boasted a perfect, 12-0 record. That was, until Hurney shoved against them. In what was a defining moment for him, Hurney tossed a complete-game, sevenstrikeout gem to lead HPA past Waianae, 3-1, into the state semifinals. Baseball was officially his game. “I knew it was going to be a tough game, so I was kind of shocked we won. We had just beaten an undefeated team! From that point hurney’s home Continued from page 19 Continued on page 22